Beautiful beaches are something we never tire of and with some of the world’s best on our doorstep, there’s no need to board that long-haul flight just yet. With the New South Wales and Queensland borders so closely linked, this stretch of paradise makes for the ultimate beach hopping road trip. So, pack the sunscreen and swimmers and get salty at these 10 stunning spots.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Also known as the fictional coastal town Summer Bay in Home and Away (across over 7,000 episodes and counting) this beauty, located in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, has star qualities that extend far beyond the TV screen. Sitting at the end of a long peninsula and fringed by the surf on one side and Pittwater to the west, Palm Beach (or Palmy to the locals) boasts some of Sydney’s most exclusive holiday homes. Despite the glitz and glam of Sydney’s elite, the beach has a down-to-earth vibe and has a lot more on offer than simply catching some rays. With epic surf at the northern end, safe ‘ocean pool’ family swimming and picnic spots at the southern end, a golf course, markets, and an array of delicious restaurants on hand, be prepared for an action-packed day!
Keen to catch one of Sydney’s best beach sunrises? Head to the 500-metre-long stunning sands of Bilgola Beach to experience a picture-perfect sunrise minus the crowds. Framed by lush greenery, Bilgola is somewhat of a secret gem tucked away between the more popular Avalon and Newport beaches. While it’s a surfer’s paradise, it’s also a great place to have a dip – just be sure to stick between the flags to avoid the notorious rips. For a safer swim option, head down to the huge saltwater pool located at the southern end and bask in calm waters and spectacular scenery.
For a beach experience of a slightly different kind, pack your fishing rod or bird watching binoculars, ditch the city crowds, and venture to Garie Beach located in Royal National Park. While it’s still a beautiful spot for a swim, it’s also a great spot for beach fishing and coastal bird watching. During the winter and spring months, there’s also whale watching to be had, with Garie Beach bordering the migration path of these majestic mammals.
One of the few beaches with year-round lifeguards and easy train access from Sydney’s CBD, Cronulla has all the essential ingredients for an easy day at the beach. Beautiful beach and surf aside, add an esplanade dotted with top-notch restaurants (and fish ‘n’ chips of course), delectable gelato and cool surf boutiques, and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect beach day.
Located in Mosman in Sydney’s North Shore, Balmoral is a favourite with locals and it’s easy to see why. The calm waters and silky sand lures both Sydneysiders and tourists for a day that promises to deliver on chill with a side of espresso, fish ‘n’ chips, or even a glass of champagne. If you feel like getting active, there’s paddle boarding, snorkelling, kayaking, and sailing on offer – otherwise, take a stroll along the esplanade and find a pretty parkland picnic spot.
Don’t be fooled by the name, there’s no need to avert your eyes here. In fact, you might struggle to take your eyes off the beauty that is Nudey Beach. This secluded and pristine treasure is located on Fitzroy Island (a 45-minute ferry ride from Cairns) and is well worth the day trip. On arrival, you’ll be greeted with immaculate white sand, spectacular granite boulders, and gram-worthy turquoise seas. We recommend packing a picnic lunch and wrapping up the day with an ice-cold beer at Fitzroy Island’s very own Foxy’s Bar & Grill before heading back to the mainland.
Now for a beach that does live up to its name, it’s Radical Bay on the North-East corner of (also aptly named) Magnetic Island. Recently gated off for vehicle access, this absolute stunner is accessible via a 3km trail beginning at the eastern end of Horseshoe Bay Beach. You’ll be more than rewarded for your eucalyptus forest amble, as you pop out on a beautifully remote beach fringed with sky-high palms and pines, contrasting with turquoise tropical waters and silky white sand. Facilities are non-existent, so be sure to bring along everything you need.
Perhaps one for a beach splurge list rather than a casual day trip list, Lizard Island, the northernmost resort on the Great Barrier Reef, is the ultimate place to unwind on your own private beach or in a secluded cove. You’ll need to take a charter plane to get there, and once there, don’t expect cheap and cheerful happy hour drinks at Lizard Island’s only resort, but do expect an all-inclusive experience with gourmet meals, luxury accommodation, abundant wildlife, and once in a lifetime experiences. Now that’s bucket list-worthy!
While a creek might not sound worthy of a spot in the top beaches, Tallebudgera Creek is much more sparkling azure sea and glittering sand than your typical silty inlet. Framed by Burleigh Heads National Park on one side and (a different) Palm Beach on the other, the relatively calm waters are a magical spot for a family beach day. If you want to stay awhile, the Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park – perched on the edge of the estuary – has everything from camping spots to deluxe cabins.
Sure, it’s technically a lake, but it most definitely does have a beach – and an incredibly beautiful one at that. The jewel in heritage-listed Fraser Island’s crown, Lake McKenzie is a sight to behold and forms the picture-perfect backdrop to plenty of photos. Containing only rainwater (which is filtered by the unusually soft and pristine silica sand), swimming here is something you need to experience firsthand.
Still not sure your need for salt and sunshine will be satisfied? Find more great spots to spread your towel in our definitive guide to Australia’s Best (lesser-known) Beaches, or in New Zealand’s Best Beaches.
Don’t forget your health and safety always comes first, so before travelling, check in with your local health authority on any restrictions or COVID rules to follow. To make sure your travel is as stress free as possible, it is also recommended to check what’s happening at your point of destination, this way you can be prepared and revel in your seaside beach travels!